Pursuit of Wisdom

The Value of Wisdom—Proverbs 2:1-13

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness…

Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding—Proverbs. What do these things mean, what is their progression, and where do they come from? How do we pursue them?

In the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were perfect, not yet tainted by sin, were they wise? Did they have wisdom? I can’t pretend to answer that for you, but I can tell you that they were tantalized by the idea of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Even when walking in the garden with God, the font of all wisdom and the most beautiful embodied Wisdom of all, could they identify wisdom? After hearing the deceptive words from the wicked serpent, Eve saw the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not only beautiful but would make one wise. What did Eve understand of wisdom? I think it’s probably clear that she did not know enough about it.

I bet you that she understood a good deal about folly shortly thereafter though.

I think Eve shows us what Paul David Tripp writes about in New Morning Mercies when he says, “Sin reduces all of us to fools… we think we can step over God’s boundaries without consequences. We think we deserve what we do not deserve and are able to do what we cannot do. Shockingly, there are more times than most of us recognize or would be willing to admit when we think we are smarter than God.”

This brings us back to Eve. Rather than seeing the deceit of the serpent, she now wonders (in burgeoning folly) if God was deceiving her. Wisdom is not natural to sinners. The pursuit of wisdom is one of humanity’s most profoundly important quests. But it is hard for us to gain wisdom, to measure wisdom, to properly see and acknowledge wisdom because we see through eyes which filter and interpret through our own foolish hearts.

So where does wisdom come from? You can’t buy it. You can’t even get it by hard work and experience. Not actually, not officially, not true wisdom. And that is because, in order to be wise, we first need to be rescued by the Savior. In the counterintuitive, paradoxical way of the Gospel, we must become needy, humble, seeking, and acknowledge that we are completely depraved and foolish on our own… it is only through the gift of faith and the enabling work of the Holy Spirit that we even can gain true godly wisdom.

Colossians 2:3 says of Jesus, “in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” All the treasures! It is the free grace of God that bridges us with wisdom and causes wisdom to live in us. Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Psalm 111 says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

Eve disobeyed His commandments. And ever since she and her husband, our first parents, grasped for knowledge and wisdom outside of the boundaries and commands of God, humanity has been brought forth in sin and folly. It is by the grace of God alone that He gives us directions in Scripture on how to once again pursue Him, pursue wisdom, pursue understanding.

He tells us that fearing Him is where we begin. And understanding the fear of Him is the end game. THAT is where we find the knowledge of God.

Trinitarian Blessing

We can not escape the grace of God. Father, Son, and Spirit—this God we serve is with us as our foundation, our protection, our all. Do not fear.

Weekly Verse: 2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Weekly Catechism:
Q:How many persons are there in God?
A: There are three persons in the one true and living God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Our memory verse this week is a benediction—in fact, a specifically Trinitarian blessing—that emphasizes God’s love, the grace we enjoy because of the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship or communion we experience because of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. (And our catechism focus is also on the Trinity.) There is unity here, yet diversity. Paul’s blessing ascribes specific blessings to the operation of each person in the Trinitarian Godhead. The finite human mind can wrestle with the doctrine of the Trinity for more than a lifetime: it is a mind-blowing truth, which remains a mathematical mystery for us. Jonathan Edwards noted, “I think [the doctrine of the Trinity] to be the highest and deepest of all Divine mysteries.” But it is comforting and practical to the core. We can basically sum up Christianity this way: we come to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. And in this verse we remember the fullness of God in how He redeems and blesses His people with grace, love, and fellowship.

There are many ways to apply this, but one way that I find comforting is the reminder that we can not escape the grace of our God. Perhaps this is a terrifying reality for some—but for those of us who find our safety, security, comfort, and refuge in the Trinitarian God, it gives us every reason not to fear. His grace reaches us no matter where we run! The grace of God is before us, behind us, above us, beneath us, with us, and for us. It is this gracious God who is our foundation, our refuge, our protection. We His children do not need to fear. We have His grace, His love, and His fellowship. He gives us Himself in grace and love while enfolding us into communion with His family.

If anyone has experience with this inescapable grace of God, it was Paul. 1 Timothy 1:12-17 is Paul’s testimony of this:
“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

You remember Paul, right? Paul was a blasphemer. A persecutor. An insolent opponent. He was ignorant and unbelieving. He proclaims his dire sinfulness! But here’s the thing. Even Paul—who was Saul at that time—could not escape the love, grace, and communion of our Triune God. And Paul invites us to give honor and glory to the only God, the King of the ages, because of His mercy and patience and faithfulness.

Why did the chief of sinners receive love, grace, and communion from God? Because the grace of our Lord overflowed for Paul with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. And this ought likewise to be our comfort and our hope, it ought to drive away fear and doubt. Our Lord Jesus Christ has grace for you and for me. Our God loves you and me. And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit reaches and embraces you and me. This is indeed a blessing. This is our firm foundation. This is encouraging. And it ought to give us hope to face trials and strength to climb mountains.

Monday Morning Time, 1.11.21

Copywork:
Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls– yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.
To the Chief Musician with my stringed instruments.

……

Scripture Readings:
Psalm 128
A Song of Ascents.
Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be life a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!

Proverbs 18:1-24
(the following verses are some that my children specifically wanted to comment and meditate on)
(1) A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.
(2) A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
(7) A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.
(9) He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
(10) The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
(14) The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?
(15) The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
(19) A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.
(24) A man who has friends but himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
2 Samuel 6:1-23
The kids thought it was interesting to revisit the Ark of the Covenant, and to observe the behavior of King David. We discussed behaviors of political rulers, and the overlapping of political & religious realms. We talked about the use of music and feasting in both political & religious events.
……

Hymn of the Month (January)
www.happyhymnody.com
All The Way My Savior Leads Me

Psalm of the Month (January)
instagram.com/sacredpsalmody
Psalm 2

Singing:
Psalm 148 (Book of Psalms for Singing)
Psalm 100 (Old Hundredth)
Psalm 8 (Erb)
Fruits of the Spirit (Erb)
Books of the Bible (Soles)
Kings of Israel (Soles)

……

Poetry:
All the kids:
The Odyssey, lines 1-20, by Homer
Speak, Memory–
Of the cunning hero,
The wanderer, blown off course time and again
After he plundered Troy’s sacred heights.
Speak of all the cities he saw, the minds he grasped,
The suffering deep in his heart at sea
As he struggled to survive and bring his men home
But could not save them, hard as he tried–
The fools– destroyed by their own recklessness
When they ate the oxen of Hyperion the Sun,
And that god snuffed out their day of return.
Of these things,
Speak, Immortal One,
And tell the tale once more in our time.
By now, all the others who had fought at Troy–
At least those who had survived the war and the sea–
Were safely back home. Only Odysseus
Still longed to return to his home and his wife.
The nymph Calypso, a powerful goddess–
And beautiful– was clinging to him
In her caverns and yearned to possess him.

All the kids:
Eternity, by William Blake
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunshine

Gabriel:
Winter Morning by Ogden Nash
Winter is the king of showmen,
Turning tree stumps into snow men
And houses into birthday cakes
And spreading sugar over lakes.
Smooth and clean and frosty white,
The world looks good enough to bite.
That’s the season to be young,
Catching snowflakes on your tongue.
Snow is snowy when it’s snowing,
I’m sorry it’s slushy when it’s going.

Asher:
Spellbound by Emily Brontë
The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow,
And the storm is fast descending
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Evangeline:
Winter Time by Robert Louis Stevenson
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.
Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.
When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap,
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.
Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house and hill and lake
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

Simeon:
White Fields by James Stephens
In winter-time we go
Walking in the fields of snow;
Where there is no grass at all;
Where the top of every wall,
Every fence, and every tree
Is as white as white can be.
Pointing out the way we came–
Every one of them the same–
All across the fields there be
Prints in silver filigree;
And our mothers always know,
By the footprints in the snow,
Where it is the children go.

……

Catechism:
Three kids working on New City Catechism:
Question 11. What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?
A.
Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbor, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love. Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.
Question 48. What is the church?
A.
God chooses and preserves for Himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.
One child in the Westminster Shorter Catechism for Children:
Question 66. How is Christ a prophet?
A. Because He teaches us the will of God.
One child in the Small Children’s Catechism:
Question 1. Who made you?
A. God.

……

Read-Aloud Selections:
The Door at the End of the World by Caroline Carlson
Pages of History, Volume 1 by Etter and Detweiler
Radiant by Richard Hannula